Aerospace electronics industry standard AQEC moves closer to military adoption

SAN DIEGO, 2 June 2009. An industry standards plan to certify commercial-grade electronic parts for avionics and other aerospace applications is on the verge of receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), says a senior component engineer from Boeing Co.

SAN DIEGO, 2 June 2009. An industry standards plan to certify consumer-grade electronic parts for avionics and other aerospace technology is on the verge of receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), says a senior component engineer from Boeing Co.

The program is called the Aerospace Qualified Electronic Component (AQEC) initiative, which is administered by the Government Electronics & Information Technology Association (GEIA) in Arlington, Va., to help the aerospace industry find a stable supply of relatively inexpensive consumer-grade electronic integrated circuits, semiconductors, and other components that are good enough for aerospace use.

"We are working on DOD adoption, and DOD adoption will come soon," said Ken Finney, component specialist engineer for the Boeing Co. in Seattle during a session presentation Monday at the Avionics USA conference and trade show in San Diego, sponsored by the PennWell Aerospace and Defense Media Group.

"AQEC is useful now, and will become more so," Finney told Avionics USA attendees. "When DOD adopts it this will give us the critical mass that we need."

AQEC is an information-sharing program that enables aerospace systems designers to get the data they need from electronic component suppliers to determine if consumer-grade electronic parts are sufficiently rugged and reliable for applications in avionics and other aerospace applications.

AQEC suppliers such as Altera Corp., Texas Instruments Inc., and Intersil Corp. certify themselves and their parts to AQEC compliance. Framers originally had hoped to require third-party certification, but scrapped that plan because of industry resistance.

"AQEC has nothing to do with aerospace and qualification; it's an information-sharing standard.," Finney says. "Tell us the detail about the part, how you qualified it, and if you are willing to share all that data with us. It will be good enough for some applications, and not good enough for other applications."

Other changes in store for the AQEC program, contained in Revision A, are ready for industry balloting, Finney says. Approval would move the standard closer to the guidelines of the Automotive Electronic Council AEC-Q100 specification.

This change not only could enhance the credibility of AQEC parts, but also could help open military and aerospace electronics applications to a wider variety of automotive-qualified electronic parts.

Many part manufacturers don't realize that non-automotive customers want their automotive parts; this standard can broaden their customer base," Finney says.

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